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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 01-1448



2001 Annual Report

[31 Pa.B. 4361]

Wild Resource Conservation Board Members

John Oliver, Secretary
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Honorable Peter A. Colangelo, Executive Director
PA Fish and Boat Commission

Honorable Vern Ross, Executive Director
PA Game Commission

Honorable Mary Jo White
Majority Chairperson
Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee

Honorable Raphael J. Musto
Minority Chairperson
Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee

Honorable Arthur D. Hershey
Majority Chairperson
House Committee on Environmental Resources & Energy

Honorable Camille ''Bud'' George
Minority Chairperson
House Committee on Environmental Resources & Energy

2000-2001 Projects

*Bat Conservation Strategies: A workshop for Policy Makers, Planners & Team LeadersBat Conservation Intl$3,250
*Wild Action Grant ProgramPA Game Commission$4,000
*Develop a Population Monitoring Procedure for River OttersFrostburg University$22,600
*Important Bird Area Baseline Survey/Eight SitesPA Audubon Society$25,000
*Maintenance of Official List of the Birds of PAPA Ornithological Records$2,000
*Special Concern Mammal
Species Research Mgmt.
The Nature Conservancy$10,000
*Conservation of Museum Bird Specimens The Academy of Natural Sciences $13,000
*Monitoring Breeding Birds
in PA's Ridge & Valley Forests
Hawk Mtn. Sanctuary$15,000
*PA Society for Ornithology Special Areas ProjectEcology III$10,000
*Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher Status, DistributionOrnithological Technical Study Committee $2,500
*The Effect of Forest Mgmt. of Vernal Woodland Pond Amphibians Shippensburg Univ. $8,456
*PA Herpetological Atlas Project Indiana University $35,654
* Vernal Pool Inventory Pilot Project Michael McCarthy $13,300
* Assessment of Genetic Variations of Timber Rattlesnake Beaver College $18,875
* Conservation and Mgmt. of Fish, Herptiles & Aquatic Species The Nature Conservancy $46,800
* Structural Characteristics of Timber Rattlesnakes College of New Jersey $4,960
* Crayfish Census Lock Haven $3,024
* Land Snails of Selected PA Natural Areas Appalachian Conservation Biology $10,760
The following projects were funded with Growing Greener monies:
* Update and Expansion to Management System for PNDI East The Nature Conservancy $25,500
* Field and Office Studies of Plant Species of Special Concern in Eastern PA The Nature Conservancy $20,500
* Aquatic Vegetation Study/Field Herbarium Studies of Tentatively Undetermined Species Morris Arboretum $30,000
* Field Studies and Review of Plant Species of Special Concern in PA Phipps Conservatory $18,500
* Documenting Native and Introduced Flora Associated with Glacial Lakes Western PA Conservancy $25,500
* 2001 Rare Plant Inventory within Northwestern PA Cleveland Museum $13,000
* Mycophagy by Small Mammals Carnegie Museum $15,000
* Impact of Timber Harvesting on Woodland Amphibians--Randy Cassell Cumberland Valley HS $15,000
* Wildlife in the Classroom Penn Wild Publications $12,000
* Grasshoppers of PA Messiah College $10,000
* Butterfly Handbook for PA State Forests and State Parks Penn State $15,000
* Building A Team for Conserving PA's Biodiversity Support for PA Natural Diversity Conservation Partnership --Wildlands Conservancy $25,000
* Purchase Smith Property Hawk Mtn. Sanctuary $40,000
* Multi-Dimensional Interactive Exhibit Wildwood Lake Friends of Wildwood Lake $35,000
* Franklin, Carbon and Schuylkill Counties Natural Areas Inventories The Nature Conservancy $100,000
* Natural Areas Inventory for Mercer, Huntingdon, Lawrence Counties $100,000

The Balance Sheet and Statement of Unreserved Fund Balance provided were prepared by the
Comptroller's Office on a cash basis of accounting, combined with an encumbrance budgetary system.
They were not prepared in accordance with General Accepted Accounting Principles.

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Wild Resource Conservation Fund
Statement of Unreserved Fund Balance
for the period ended June 30,2001

Unreserved Fund Balance, Beginning $418,246.56
Revenue Received:
      Income Tax Check-offs$140,492.48
      Voluntary Donations50,641.17
      Income from ''Osprey'' Film8,364.00
      Wild Plants License/Permits 1,780.00
      Sale of Publications 19,100.00
      Departmental Services 255.00
      Wild Resource License Plate 310,124.95
      Wild Resource Tee Shirts 1,333.00
      Interest on Securities       44,782.00
               Total Revenue Received $576,872.60
      Prior Year Commitment Liquidations $176,673.87
               Total Funds Available $1,171,793.03
      Administrative Expenses$452,511.03
      Administrative Commitments (1) 15,140.67
      Project Expenses (2) 139,776.91
      Project Commitments (3)   338,848.13
               Total Deductions$  946,276.74
      Unreserved Fund Balance, Ending $  225,516.29
(1)This figure does not include administrative commitments of $288.96 contingently committed against future years spending authorizations.
(2)This figure does include $50,795.60 in expenses from special projects approved by the Wild Resource Conservation Fund (WRCF) board.
(3)This figure does not include project commitments of $186,493.46 (of which $47,552.46 are special projects) contingently committed against future years spending authorizations. This figure does include $29,950.27 in special projects approved by the WRCF board.

(Prepared by Comptroller's Office)

Public Hearing

   The Wild Resource Conservation Board (Board) has scheduled a public hearing for Wednesday, September 12, 2001, 1 p.m. at the Fish and Boat Office, 1601 Elmerton Ave., Erie Room, Harrisburg. The purpose of the hearing is to provide individuals and organizations the opportunity to comment on the recommendations and programs funded with monies from the WRCF. The Board is interested in hearing from any individual or organization that wishes to make comment on the projects submitted for funding to the agencies, Game Commission, Fish and Boat Commission or the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) list published in this issue of the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Agencies project recommendations for funding will be presented at the public hearing.

   Only comments from the general public regarding the projects received will be heard at the September 12, 2001, public hearing.

   The Board will then evaluate all recommendations submitted for its consideration and final funding decisions will be approved at the annual meeting on November 13, 2001.

Annual Meeting

   The Board has scheduled an annual meeting on Tuesday, November 13, 2001, 1 p.m., Game Commission, 2001 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg. A full report will be presented on the allocation of monies from the WRCF. The Board will consider all presentations made at the public hearing and the plans outlined by the professional technical staffs of the Fish and Boat Commission, Game Commission and DCNR.

   The Fish and Boat Commission, the Game Commission and DCNR will administer the recommendations funded by the Board. The recommendation selections will be based on their individual contribution to the management goals of three agencies and those outlined in the Wild Resource Conservation Act.

   The following list includes the project recommendations requesting funding for 2001-2002 received by the Board. The public is invited to offer comment at the public hearing on September 12, 2001. The public hearing will be held at the Fish and Boat Commission, 1601 Elmerton Ave., Erie Room, Harrisburg, PA at 1 p.m. Limit comments to 5 minutes and provide eight copies for the Board.

Project Submissions to DCNR for WRCF Funding in 2001

*  Ex-situ Conservation of Pennsylvania Native Flora

Objectives: To locate, document and collect fruit/seed from Plants of Special Concern in PA (POSCIP) and common native plant populations located within natural areas in southwestern Pennsylvania. To preserve genetic diversity as well as conserve our native flora through the ex-situ conservation of seeds stored in the Frozen Garden at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

Justification: When restoring habitats, the optimum source of new genetic material is from plants initially found in the wild. Whereas when seeds are collected from cultivated plants, 'artificial selection' occurs, thus reducing or eliminating genetic diversity. Long-term seed storage is a valuable supplement to institute conservation due to the rapid loss of native habitat.

Sponsor: Phipps Conservatory

Cost: $19,612

*  Development of the PA Biodiversity Conservation Plan

Objectives: As a first step in development of the Biodiversity Conservation Plan (BCP), funding has been received to produce a literature-based State of the State Report on Biodiversity (SoS), which will be completed at the end of 2001. This proposal requests funding to expand that literature review into the ''gray literature,'' specifically reports from projects funded by WRCF that are pertinent to biodiversity. Objectives include (1) review all report, including those housed in WRCF, DCNR, Game Commission and Fish and Boat Commission offices for relevance to the BCP; (2) create an annotated listing and database of pertinent reports with keyword search capability; (3) develop a consolidated list of recommendations contained in reports; and (4) integrate data and recommendations in reports into the BCP.

Justification: This project is critical to the development of the Pennsylvania BCP, which specifically addresses recommendations in the 21st Century Environment Commission Report (1998) and other documents.

Sponsor: Pennsylvania Biodiversity Partnership

Cost: $30,114

*  Refining the Knowledge of Vernal Pools in Pennsylvania

Objectives: In conjunction with the Bureau of Forestry, TNC and WPC staff (partners in PA Natural Diversity Inventory (PNDI)) are reviewing the classifications of natural vernal pool communities and is developing a set of criteria of several types of zoological data would be most useful in understanding if there are different types of pools and investigate aspects of their ecology relative to management. Determine which groups of vernal pool animals are the most useful in terms of adding relevant descriptive information to the largely vegetation based classification system, such as insect groups, crustaceans, amphibians and the like.

Justification: Identify problems being addressed by the project and demonstrate the need for accomplishing the stated objectives. Discuss benefits expected. This section should demonstrate that the individual has thoroughly reviewed the pertinent literature to take advantage of existing information and methodology.

Sponsor: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Cost: $32,000

*  Field Surveys of Aquatic and Terrestrial Plant Species of Special Concern in Eastern Pennsylvania

Objectives: Expand coverage of the PNDI database by conducting field inventories of poorly studied or completely undocumented sites of probable occurrence of plant species of special concern. Specific deliverables: PNDI field survey reports to be submitted to PNDI East for data entry.

Justification: In an effort to protect the natural biological diversity in the State, land development proposals must be screened by PNDI to identify those that pose a threat to endangered, threatened, rare or candidate species. The effectiveness of this process depends in large part on the completeness of the information contained in the PNDI database. Sites not represented in the database will not trigger protective measures. However, the number of new sites discovered each year clearly indicates that much remains to be done to provide a complete picture of endangered, threatened and rare species occurrence. In addition, because biological systems are dynamic, information on known sites must be updated periodically.

Sponsor: Morris Arboretum

Cost: $39,530

*  Documenting the Native and Introduced Flora Associated with Glacial Lakes in Northwest Pennsylvania, with Emphasis on Rare Species and Invasive Alien Species

Objectives: Compile for each glacial lake in western Pennsylvania, a list of plant species presently documented with herbarium species (recent and historic). Conduct field studies to produce more complete and current lists of the floras of these lakes. Map the locations of invasive alien plant species. Map the locations and assess the size and condition of occurrences of plant species of special concern. Map the major habitat areas of the lakes. Collect data that will assist community ecologists in characterizing aquatic natural communities. Provide baseline data from which changes in population size of rare species and invasive species can be detected.

Justification: Identify problems being addressed by the project and demonstrate the need for accomplishing the stated objectives. Discuss benefits expected. This section should demonstrate that the individual has thoroughly reviewed the pertinent literature to take advantage of existing information and methodology. Glacial lakes are among the most treasured natural features of this Commonwealth. Of the 2,500 lakes in this Commonwealth, only 50 were naturally formed. These lakes are important scenic and recreational resources, and are the focus of much tourism activity. Glacial lakes also comprise habitat for many species of plants and animals that would not otherwise inhabit this Commonwealth.

Sponsor: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Cost: $30,440

*  Herbarium Studies of Pennsylvania Plants of Special Concern

Objectives: Provide essential data from herbarium specimens deposited at Carnegie Museum to PNDI for use in managing and conserving Pennsylvania's natural resources, and to provide important services to staff of other organizations that are involved in conservation efforts in this Commonwealth who regularly use our facilities. Two major objectives: 1. Data Recording and Specimen Verification and 2. Herbarium Services to the Heritage Program.

Justification: Specimen label data and accurate identification of specimens are essential to efforts to monitor populations of POSCIP species. Correct taxonomic determinations are critical not only the reliability of the PNDI database as a tool for environmental review, but also to field surveys by various organizations and individuals, who rely on specimen label data to relocate historic populations. Specimen verification should be the first step in the process of protecting taxa, but unfortunately it was omitted for most CM specimens entered in the PNDI database prior to 1992.

Sponsor: Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Cost: $5,500

*  Field Studies of Plant Species of Special Concern in Eastern Pennsylvania

Objectives: Conduct field surveys in eastern Pennsylvania to attempt to locate denovo occurrences and confirm extant or historical occurrences of plant species of special concern having Pennsylvania Biological Survey (PBS) state status of Endangered, Threatened, Rare or Undetermined. The surveys will involve a minimum of 15 species on the POSCIP list. Field data at each successfully survey, such as population size, habitat type and possible reasons for not locating a given species, will be recorded on Natural Heritage/PNDI field forms, mapped in GIS and computerized into the PNDI databases. This computerized information will be linked to the PNDI Central Office in Harrisburg and therefore available for use in the DCNR environmental review process, the Wild Plant Program, the POSCIP list and the PBS Vascular Plant Technical Committee.

Justification: Fieldwork is necessary for the proper conservation of wild plant resources in this Commonwealth. Without new and revised data that field surveys provide, the completeness and reliability of the PNDI databases, and therefore plant conservation in the State, would be compromised.

Sponsor: Nature Conservancy

Cost: $10,000

*  2002 Rare Plant Inventory with Northwestern Pennsylvania

Objectives: Continue to search for new occurrences of rare plant communities and POSCIP. Stewardship projects at Presque Isle and Erie National wildlife Refuge will be maintained and a stewardship project to restore rare habitat on the privately owned Harmonsburg Fen in Crawford County will be initiated. Museum staff will occasionally provide recommendations on environmental reviews to Department of Environmental Protection, Game Commission and DCNR's Bureau of Forestry.

Justification: There is a great need for additional inventory in northwestern POSCIP. If rare plants or rare natural communities are identified prior to development, a development can be altered or constructed in a manner that will allow the plants to survive. Museum discovery of the only State occurrence of silver sedge on the Love Road Subdivision of Mill Creek Township, Erie County enabled the developer to amend the proposed development to accommodate the State-endangered sedge. The sedge survived the construction of homes and condominiums.

Sponsor: Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Cost: $15,000

*  Genetic Diversity in PA Populations of the Clonal Species Carex Polymorpha

Objectives: Assess whether carex polymorpha populations in this Commonwealth are constituted mainly by a limited number of clones or by multiple genetic individuals. Assess the spatial distribution of the clones and their size.

Justification: Study will be conducted in collaboration with Dr. Ann Rhoads and Dr. Timothy Block of Morris Arboretum who are familiar with the locations of extant populations of C. polymorpha and have visited those populations numerous times.

Sponsor: Gabriela Plomano

Cost: $18,400

*  Use of the Supplemental PNDI Data Management System for the Dept. of Agriculture Noxious Weed Survey Date

Objectives: Update and expand database fields in the Supplemental Database to record, store and map noxious weed data in this Commonwealth. Provide the Department of Agriculture with a tool to store and analyze noxious weed data in this Commonwealth. Provide training and a help manual for Department of Agriculture staff.

Justification: The supplemental database is a tool that provides field biologists with more complete information on species distribution and plant community types. It also targets sites that do show potential for rare species occurrences, and provide recommendations, such as what to look for and the time of year to revisit. Continued development and broad use of the database requires that we expand it to include fields that reflect the needs of other agencies for other species and other types of data such as weeds. The Department of Agriculture has been collecting and storing information on noxious weeds found in this Commonwealth for more than 10 years. There are approximately 3,000 paper records maintained by the Department of Agriculture in binders and map atlas. None of the data has been entered into an electronic database or spreadsheet. It is the intention of PNDI to work with the Department of Agriculture to modify and use the ''supplemental database'' created by PNDI to store the data electronically and to map these data in Arc View 3.2.

Sponsor: Nature Conservancy

Cost: $17,000

*  Human Impacts of Aphids Biodiversity (Homoptera, Insecta): Temporal Changes in Distribution and Plant Host Association

Objectives: Determine the occurrence and distribution of selected aphid species at historical localities where repeated collection of aphids was made on a regular basis for the last many decades. Archival aphid records and collection data of the specimens in the Frost Entomological Museum provide necessary information to select target species and historical localities in Pennsylvania. Study temporal changes in species diversity of aphids and associated host plants. This study will provide data for species diversity, plant hosts, community structure and composition of exotic and native species. Identify trends in distribution of aphid biodiversity with respect to habitat changes by a number of human activities such as development, land use and other parameters. This study will determine habitat changes and assess the use of aphids as bio-indicators of environmental change.

Justification: There is little understanding of the long-term changes in biodiversity taking place in this Commonwealth through habitat modification, urban development and management of natural resources, particularly their affect on the invertebrates that compromise most of the species biodiversity. Aphids are major plant feeders and many species are closely associated with specific plant hosts and thus their distributional pattern is closely related to the host plant distribution. They are widely distributed and sensitive to rapid environmental changes. This collection will provide the material base for the proposed study.

Sponsor: Penn State

Cost: $37,226

*  The Impact of Timber Harvesting on Woodland Amphibians

Objectives: Vernal pools located in forests with known age disturbances will be monitored to determine the number of breeding amphibians. Ponds will be selected based upon the community structure. Woodland amphibian populations will be censused utilizing a Visual Encounter Search technique. A total of 75 sample plots will be selected throughout the State representing forests that are in various ages of recovery. A coverboard study will be carried out on three recent clearcuts and the undisturbed forests contiguous with these cuts. This technique will allow us to make reliable comparisons of amphibian numbers from one age structure to another by assessing the same are of potential habitat. The fourth component of the study will examine the diet of woodland salamanders. In recent studies we have conducted, it has become clear that leaf litter invertebrates make up the major dietary component of woodland amphibians. Since timber harvesting often has a profound impact on the leaf litter zone (even its complete removal at times) and the subsequent reduced production of leaf litter, it is our goal to determine how this affects salamander diet.

Justification: Commonwealth forests have been cut several times since Europeans have arrived. During the past 300 years, little if any concern was given to forest species other than big game animals. It is time we begin to manage the entire forest ecosystem and not just select aspects of it. Amphibians are reported to make up the greatest vertebrate biomass in the northeastern deciduous biome.

Sponsor: Randy W. Cassell

Cost: $17,000

Project Submissions to the Game Commission for Funding in 2001

*  Non-Breeding Season Movements of Adult Northern Goshawks in PA

Objectives: Determine if Commonwealth goshawks winter near their nesting territories, winter away and how far do they move, timing of any significant nonbreeding season movements, how large is the wintering area, type of landscape/forest types goshawks use during nonbreeding seasons.

Justification: Northern Goshawks were recently added to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service's Region 5 list of Nongame Bird Species of Management Concern; listed as a species of Management Concern by the Eastern Region of the United States Forest Service; and listed as threatened, endangered or of special concern by several eastern states. The nonbreeding season movements of individual goshawks are virtually unknown. Understanding where goshawks spend the nonbreeding season will facilitate improved management of ecosystems to assure continued health of the Northern Goshawk populations in the central Appalachian Mountains.

Sponsor: Earthspan

Cost: $122,577

*  Invertebrate Biodiversity of State Game Lands #211 Bioblitz (Part II)

Objectives: Complete species identification of the specimens collected during the 1999 forest BioBlitz on State Game Lands # 211 housed in the Frost Entomological Museum. Develop a taxonomic database for invertebrate biodiversity of the State Game Land # 211 based on the 1999 Bioblitz; and provide information on any rare, threatened or endangered species as well as those new to science recorded the Bioblitz site.

Justification: During the 1999 forest Bioblitz on State game lands # 211, light traps and other collecting methods collected many invertebrates. The ultimate objective of forest Bioblitz99 was to provide a century's end snapshot of forest biodiversity for State Game Lands # 211 in this Commonwealth. Most of the collections were deposited in the Frost Entomological Museum at Penn State. During the first phase of the project the specimens were sorted and prepared for taxonomic identification with individual specimens properly labeled and preserved. All specimens were coded and prepared for long-term storage and the taxonomic information was compiled into an Excel database. This project will produce the final report and taxonomic database for the State Game Land, including information on unusual specimens including rare, threatened or endangered species and those new to science along with recommendations on future biodiversity assessment. A final taxonomic database will also be made available to DCNR.

Sponsor: Penn State

Cost: $7,451

*  Evaluating the Distribution and Abundance of Reintroduced Otters in the Allegheny River Drainage: Applications of GIS, Genetic and Digital Technologies for Management of a Rare Species

Objectives: In 1999, the PA river otter reintroduction project was initiated to restore river otters to the Allegheny River drainage. To date, the Project has released otters along Tionesta and Laurel Hill Creeks and the Allegheny and Youghiogheny Rivers. Verify the persistence of otters at reintroduction areas, delineate the current distribution of reintroduced otter populations in the Allegheny River drainage; use spatially referenced habitat data to develop and evaluate GIS-based models for documenting expansion and predicting the future distribution of otter populations throughout the Allegheny River drainage. Develop unique genetic tags for use in identifying individual otters through analysis of their scats deposited along shorelines.

Justification: Although initial radio-tracking efforts and subsequent surveys suggest that the reintroduction project has been successful in restoring otters to western Pennsylvania, there has been no systematic approach implemented to evaluate long-term success of reintroduced populations. There is also a need to establish and refine techniques and protocols for monitoring the status and distribution of reintroduced otter populations.

Sponsor: Frostburg State University

Cost: $41,223

*  Preparation and Deposition of Vertebrate Specimens from Shippensburg University and Other Collections into the State Museum of Pennsylvania

Objectives: Organize and install all Shippensburg Vertebrate Museum specimens that have been transferred to the State Museum including specimens preserved in fluids and accessory collections. Organize and archive electronically, if possible, all paperwork concerning the previous specimens, including all trapline records, specimen sheets, accession records and any other pertinent paperwork. This will focus on those specimen sheets and paperwork that has not been bound to date.

Justification: With the closure of the Shippensburg Vertebrate Museum and transfer of the collection to the State Museum, the Curator of the Natural History Museum will need assistance with organizing, cataloging, storing and care of the collection of mammals and birds.

Sponsor: Nature Conservancy

Cost: $20,000

*  Den Affinity and Movement Patterns of the Allegheny Woodrat

Objectives: Research will focus on the den affinity, movement patterns and spatial distribution of Allegheny woodrats at three different sites during three time periods. Determine den affinity, frequency and distance of den relocations and characteristics of individuals relocating to new dens at each site, determine the density of occupied dens at each site and the frequency of known dens that are unoccupied at any given time, examine the spatial distribution of woodrats at individual sites and assess the potential effects of spacing behavior and number of available dens on maximum population density; compare findings across time periods and among sites. Ultimately a series of recommendations regarding ways in which findings may be incorporated into management strategies for woodrats in the State will result from this project.

Justification: Allegheny woodrat was designated as a threatened species in this Commonwealth more than a decade ago. Little information on habitat requirements is especially limited. This information is critical if a management strategy for the recovery of woodrats is to be developed.

Sponsor: Penn State

Cost: $7,908

*  Extension Fact Sheets on Wildlife

Objectives: Produce four fact sheets on Commonwealth wildlife for the Pennsylvania Wildlife Series. These will include ones on: managing habitat for amphibians, vernal pools and riparian buffers for wildlife.

Justification: A needs assessment survey sent out to natural resource professionals in agencies within this Commonwealth and to licensed Nuisance Wildlife Control Operations documented the interest in and need for accurate informative fact sheets written for the general public both on methods of dealing with problem wildlife and on habitat management for wildlife.

Sponsor: Penn State

Cost: $15,000

*  IBA Volunteer Training and Bird Monitoring Project

Objectives: Continue and expand avian inventories and monitoring on forested Important Bird Areas (IBAs), with a strong emphasis on volunteer training and involvement. Develop a Statewide model for forest bird monitoring. Recommend bird trails to enhance nature-based tourism, as appropriate.

Justification: The IBA Program and international program that began in this Commonwealth in 1996, provides a successful strategy for protecting habitats for birds and other wildlife. With the scientific assistance of this Commonwealth's Ornithological Technical Committee and Audubon's Science Department, 74 IBA sites have been identified in this Commonwealth. These sites represent biologically diverse and environmentally significant natural areas and provide critical habitat for birds, other wildlife and humans.

Sponsor: National Audubon

Cost: $20,000

*  Susquehanna River Birding & Wildlife Trail

Objectives: Identify, assess, highlight and connect bird and wildlife observation sites, nature centers and cultural sites. Generate locally-based conservation and protection activities for bird and wildlife. Gain economic benefits from nature tourism for local communities. Produce websites and other communication tools to guide wildlife watchers.

Justification: The Susquehanna Birding & Wildlife Trail will benefit key wildlife sites, such as IBAs, wetlands, nature centers, mammal areas and other sites be generating locally based conservation. Local communities will benefit economically through increased tourism.

Sponsor: National Audubon

Cost: $50,000

*  Important Bird Area Conservation Project

Objectives: Collaborate with local land trusts and the conservation community to accelerate protection of critical avian habitats on IBAs, with an emphasis on the most threatened sites that contain significant populations of State listed species. Conduct a literature review of forest management impacts on breeding birds in the mid-Atlantic region. Coordinate with landowners to complete ''bird-friendly'' management plans for IBAs, with an emphasis on DCNR, Game Commission and other public lands.

Justification: Scientific studies repeatedly demonstrate that birds are exceptional indicators of the overall health of our natural environment, especially at the local level. The absence of certain species in a particular area may point to the lack of suitable breeding or foraging habitat, pollution, pesticides or other problems in nature's food web. In essence preserving habitat essential to birds is also preserving biodiversity and other natural resources, including healthy watersheds and clean water.

Sponsor: National Audubon

Cost: $75,000

*  Appalachian Cottontail Distribution in Pennsylvania

Objectives: Determine the current distribution of Appalachian Cottontail Rabbits in this Commonwealth relative to the historical range as reported in literature. Determine an index of abundance for the Appalachian cottontail rabbit in selected locations to allow future comparisons and trend analysis. Determine general associations between selected habitat conditions and the presence/absence of Appalachian cottontail rabbits at selected trap locations. Produce management recommendations to conserve and enhance the Appalachian cottontail rabbit population in this Commonwealth.

Justification: The current distribution and population trend of the Appalachian cottontail rabbit in this Commonwealth is unknown. This rabbit has declined substantially in adjoining states where monitoring efforts have been completed and has been identified in Commonwealth literature as either ''at risk'' and current Biological Survey classification or ''Status Undetermined'' due to lack of information. Prudent management decisions cannot be made without current information about this rabbit's population status and distribution.

Sponsor: Lock Haven University

Cost: $9,715

*  Wild Action Grant

Objectives: Provide financial and resource support for 20 schools and/or youth groups to create wildlife habitats and outdoor learning areas and incorporate these areas into school curriculum club programming and after-school programs. Support a minimum of 500 students/youth members in developing these habitats for wildlife and outdoor learning. Promote partnerships between schools, youth organizations, community groups and State agencies in implementing action projects that foster wildlife conservation and earth stewardship.

Justification: To ensure habitat conservation for native plants and wildlife, both now and in the future, it is essential that habitat conservation education programs be implemented in our schools and youth organizations. Loss of habitat for native plants and animals is a concern in which students can make a tangible difference.

Sponsor: PA Game Commission

Cost: $4,000

*  Kentucky Warbler Habitat Enhancement Project

Objectives: 1) Provide 8 acres of sustainable nesting habitat for the Kentucky Warbler in an area where this warbler has been known to nest. The enhancement of the nesting area will involve erecting 8 acres of deer exclosure fencing with two gates, removing existing invasive vegetation such as grape, Japanese stilt grass and oriental bittersweet. This will be followed by plantings appropriate to the wet woodland conditions, including plant species favored by the Kentucky Warbler. 2) Monitoring of the site will continue throughout the year. The site and amendments will be photographed and included on GIS for tracking over time. Ornithologists and naturalists will visually observe the site for indications of the Kentucky Warbler or other species such as Hooded Warblers, Ovenbirds and Louisiana Waterthrushes.

Justification: Because this warbler is still observed singing in the same area it last nested, we believe it will nest again if its habitat is restored. Dennis Burton toured the 3-acre site with Robert Ridgely, Director of Ornithology at the Academy of Natural Sciences; Ann Rhoads, Director of Botany at Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania and author of The Plants of Pennsylvania; and Charles Hetzel, Research Associate at the Academy, as well as Chairperson of Ornithological Studies at the Delaware Valley Ornithological Club. They confirmed that the site conforms to the requirements of this warbler's habitat as noted in several published references such as the Nature Conservancy's Species Management Abstracts and The Wildlife Society's Wildlife Monographs. The site is a moist wooded bottomland in a deep ravine with many fallen logs, a rock-strewn stream and a small pond. A scattering of spicebush (Lindera benzoin) and red maple (Acer rubrum), also noted in some literature, is present. Likewise, records from the Pennsylvania Flora Database for this area indicate the presence of suitable plant species in the vicinity, many of which are available from local nurseries.

Evidence of deer browse can be seen throughout the area. Nonetheless, many of the browsed plants still survived, though they were low and sparse. By installing 8 acres of 8 foot high, 1.75" x 1.75" mesh, polypropylene deer exclosure fence and using galvanized steel posts, ground stakes and fencing accessories as needed, we would exclude the deer from the area. This fence has proven effective at excluding deer in other projects here at The Center, as well as elsewhere in the Philadelphia area. A 3/4 acre fenced site here at The Center was installed with a bird box inside in spring 2000 and successfully attracted a nesting pair of Tufted Titmice (Baeolophus bicolor syn: Parus bicolor). There have been no reports of the fence interfering with the movements of any bird species and several species were observed moving through it.

The project has the potential to reinstate the Kentucky Warbler to its former nesting site, which is the only site it is known to have nested in Philadelphia. We believe it is important to reinstate and increase species diversity in this and all of The Center's restoration efforts. A smaller (1/2 acre) restoration project at the site has already attracted a nesting pair of Louisiana Water Thrushes (Seiurus motacilla). This water thrush had not previously been observed nesting anywhere at The Schuylkill Center.

Sponsor: Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education

Cost: $20,000

*  The Impact of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Infestation on Habitat Use and Productivity of Hemlock Dependent Songbirds in Eastern Pennsylvania

Objectives: Comparison of Eastern Hemlock dependent Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo and Acadian Flycatcher habitat use in uninfested and Hemlock Wooly Adelgid infested Eastern Hemlock stands. Comparison of Eastern Hemlock dependent Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo and Acadian Flycatcher population densities in uninfested and Hemlock Wooly Adelgid infested Eastern Hemlock stands. Comparison of selected Eastern Hemlock dependent songbird productivity in uninfested and Hemlock Woolly Adelgid infested Eastern Hemlock stands. The other species nest too high to determine productivity.

Justification: Virtually nothing is known about the effects of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid infestations on populations of songbirds. All of these species are neotropical migrants whose populations in general have been declining hence determination of the impact that these infestations have on their populations is extremely important in the northeastern United States.

Sponsor: East Stroudsburg University

Cost: $15,000

Project Submissions to the Fish and Boat
Commission for Funding in 2001

*  Conservation and Management of Fish, Herptiles and Aquatic Species--Special Projects

Objectives: PNDI Reviews and Impact evaluation, Timber rattlesnake conservation and management, Fish and Boat Commission/TNC Liaison.

Justification: 54 fish, 12 herptiles and 2 freshwater mussels are presently on the Commonwealth endangered, threatened and/or candidate species lists. The position provides much needed baseline data and technical assistance in nongame and endangered species conservation.

Sponsor: Nature Conservancy

Cost: $45,600

*  Genetic Structure of Vernal Pond Salamander Populations

Objectives: To determine, using molecular genetics techniques, the population structure of salamanders that breed in vernal pond habitats. By comparing genetic structure of salamander populations to the geographic layout of temporary pond habitats, to estimate gene flow between habitats and determine the extent to which various landscape factors affect gene flow. Use the information collected in meeting the first two objectives to make recommendations for conserving vernal pond amphibian communities.

Justification: Temporary or vernal ponds in this Commonwealth support a rich and unique community of amphibians. Although these habitats are listed as ''vulnerable'' by the PNDI, they receive no special protection. Efforts to preserve these communities are hampered by the absence of knowledge on the population structure of vernal pond amphibian species.

Sponsor: Shippensburg University

Cost: $34,509

*  Survey of Inland Populations of Burbot

Objectives: Survey all known (current and historical) and potential locations of burbot populations outside of the Lake Erie catchment basin in this Commonwealth, determine age/size structure of extant populations; determine habitat selectivity of extant populations; determine important breeding/nursery habitats of extant populations.

Justification: Glacial relict populations of bubot exist in the headwaters of the Susquehanna and Allegheny Rivers. Susquehanna populations are known only to exist in NY. Specimens have not been collected in the Commonwealth portion of the Susquehanna. The absence of records may be due to lack of adequate sampling, extirpation, or natural distribution.

Sponsor: Penn State

Cost: $55,819

*  Assessment of Genetic Variation in a Population of Timber Rattlesnakes in South Central PA

Objectives: Collect tissue sample in order to expand our analysis of genetic variation of timber rattlesnakes to a populations found in Cumberland County in southcentral Pennsylvania. We will sample at least 30 individuals. Assess genetic variation within this population. Measure population sub-division and gene flow between this and other sampled populations in this Commonwealth.

Justification: This information is valuable in designing management progress for the conservation of timber rattlesnakes in this Commonwealth. Our data will be useful in identifying those populations, which appear to be genetically unique, and whose maintenance should therefore be a high priority. This project will also provide information about the amount of gene flow among timber rattlesnake populations in this Commonwealth.

Sponsor: Arcadia University

Cost: $9,275

Multi Agency Project Submissions for Funding in 2001

*  Grasshoppers of Pennsylvania

Objectives: Complete museum phase of the project; begin extensive field collecting of grasshoppers across the State; emphasize areas that have previously had little or no collecting, this includes both barrens and balds particularly in the northern part of the State and in the Laurel Highlands; seek new State records for species previously not encountered in this Commonwealth.

Justification: Provide information on the status and distribution of grasshoppers within this Commonwealth. No comprehensive study of Commonwealth grasshoppers has been previously undertaken. As a result of our lack of knowledge, no grasshopper species are being tracked for their conservation status.

Sponsor: Messiah College

Cost: $41,768

*  Environmental Inclusion in Teacher Preparation

Objectives: It is the goal of the IEETP program to secure and sustain systemic change in required teacher education courses for approximately 1/5 of this Commonwealth's higher education institutions that have elementary, science and/or social studies teacher preparation programs for the inclusion of E&E standards and E&E pedagogy.

Justification: Adult Commonwealth residents currently have poor understandings of essential basic environmental facts and issues such as biodiversity, watersheds and the like. Like the Nation as a whole, EE inclusion in teacher education has not yet been institutionalized in this Commonwealth.

Sponsor: Pennsylvania Center for Environmental Education/Slippery Rock University

Cost: $66,000

*  Keystone Ecotones: The River Otter in a Changing Habitat

Objectives: Produce and disseminate 5,000 copies of a teaching module based on academic standards in environment and Ecology developed by the Department of Education and focusing on the reintroduction of the river otter. Conduct six teacher workshops to introduce the teaching module and its use in the classroom.

Justification: Project will produce an easy-to-use module based on Department of Education academic standards using a WRCF research project as a content base and various State-sponsored curriculum materials for supporting activities. In brief, our project will synthesize several excellent efforts already in place in order to provide practical instructional modules for local school districts.

Sponsor: Celtic Moon Publishing, Inc.

Cost: $14,250

*  Rare Land Snails of Western Pennsylvania

Objectives: Assess the status of western Commonwealth land snails of conservation interest, with special attention to those that may be globally rare, by compiling museum collection and literature records of rare land snail distribution and ecology. Report rare land snail records using standard PNDI format. Conduct inventory to verify the presence and locate new sites of the most rare land snail on four public lands.

Justification: More than 500 native land snail species have been reported in the eastern United States, including both shell animals and slugs. Land snails occur in all terrestrial habitats in the East, although variety and abundance vary greatly according to habitat characteristics and site history. They consume live and dead plants, fungi and a variety of other foods depending upon species and habitat, and in turn are eaten by a variety of insect larvae, beetles, small mammals and birds, such as thrushes and ruffed grouse. Ultimately learning about the distribution and ecology of land snails can lead to improved conservation of these species and their habitats.

Sponsor: Appalachian Conservation Biology

Cost: $9,400

*  Wetland Diorama Exhibit at the Benjamin Olewine Nature Center at Wildwood Lake Sanctuary

Objectives: Interactive exhibit for students and adults.

Sponsor: The Friends of Wildwood Lake Nature Center Inc.

Cost: $35,000

*  County Natural Heritage Inventories

Objectives: Complete county natural heritage inventories in two counties (Mercer and Huntingdon) and initiate and perform inventories on five additional counties in western Pennsylvania. Each project runs on a 2-year schedule and additional counties will begin each year as others are completed. Products from the inventories include a report detailing the most significant ecological resources in the county under study, full scale maps covering the entire county, on-line information and findings and public presentations and education. The inventories will be available in both paper and electronic formats and will include GIS maps with a layer of Natural Heritage Area polygons.

Justification: Final results provide a list of the most important biological sites, identify the resources and map their locations. Sites are prioritized and recommendations are included, regarding the management of the biological resources present. The inventory produces a written report and maps of the entire county with Natural Heritage Areas identified. These studies were conceived as tools to assist in planning at both the county and municipal levels and have been used effectively in that capacity.

Sponsor: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Cost: $222,300

*  Continuation of Lebanon and Schuylkill Counties Natural Areas Inventories and Initiation of Three Additional County Inventories

Objectives: Complete the identification of sites with rare species and exemplary natural communities in Schuylkill and Lebanon Counties, initiate three new county inventories for rare, threatened and endangered species and exemplary natural communities; to provide these data to county and municipal officials, conservation organizations, the development community and the public to make better informed conservation decisions in the respective counties.

Justification: The 21st Century Environment Commission Report recommended funding for the completion of the NAIs as a step toward preserving this Commonwealth's natural diversity. To preserve that diversity, land use planners and other must know what that diversity is and where it is represented on the landscape.

Sponsor: Nature Conservancy

Cost: $150,000


[Pa.B. Doc. No. 01-1448. Filed for public inspection August 3, 2001, 9:00 a.m.]

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